After almost seven decades, Dr. Christian Chenay still wants to treat patients in the ‘forgotten’ suburbs of Paris.
At 98, Dr. Chenay is France’s oldest practicing doctor and he does not see himself stopping anytime soon, saying: “If you sit and watch TV all day you switch off pretty quickly.”
The good doctor, who has no health problems of his own and doesn’t even wear glasses during his consultations, sees patients on Mondays and Wednesdays and cares for members of a religious retirement home once a week.
It was in 1951 when French doctor Christian Chenay saw his first patients. After nearly 70 years in practice, he is still working and treating patients in the Paris suburbs two days a week and cares for members of a religious retirement home once a week. Some of them have been his patients for decades.
Now at 98 — with no health problems — Chenay said an imminent retirement had no appeal.
“If you’re over 60 they put you with the old people,” Dr. Chenay said. “One day you’ve got cards, the next day bingo, then there’s sudoku… With all that you become a complete idiot. I’m better off being a doctor!”
The good doctor, who says he doesn’t even wear glasses during his consultations, first worked as a welder before becoming a doctor. He ultimately qualified as a radiologist before returning to general practice.
There’s nothing high tech in his surgery clinic — there is a fax machine but there’s computer. But Dr. Chenay says he is updated with all the latest developments in medicine via his subscriptions to online medical journals.
He also talks about patients who diagnose themselves on the internet and then go to his clinic demanding drugs for their ‘illnesses.’
Many of Dr. Chenay’s patients say they experience difficulty to get appointments in Chevilly-Larue, which only has three doctors for a 19,000 population, so they line up early to see Dr. Chenay who promise to see the first 20 patients who sign up.
President Emmanuel Macron of France has faced months of unrest from hospital workers angry about tough working conditions and underinvestment, and Chenay said he had never seen a worse crisis in the sector, Reuters reported.
In France, the average retirement age for doctors is 67. Chenay’s own son, who was also a doctor, has already embraced retirement.
But the 98-year-old doctor does not see himself retiring soon.
“If you sit and watch TV all day you switch off pretty quickly, your head doesn’t last long,” he said.